An essayist I usually admire, who shall remain unnamed, made passing reference occurring "In 1960, just before the civil rights era." No it isn't. People worked hard for civil rights long before Selma, and we do them a disservice by focusing our attention only on a particular section of the struggle. Considering those who invoke the Civil Rights Era most often, it is clear to me that there is a political group that benefits from creating the impression that "everything that was important happened right here, orchestrated by us."
You might say that the Civil Rights Era goes all the way back to 1619, when the first Africans were brought and assigned the role of indentured servant rather than slave. That may not sound like much, but think how different our history would have been if the American colonies could have held that line of freeing servants after seven or ten years, as they usually did with Europeans.
In 1500, slavery was worldwide, though in Europe it had been acquiring limitations for centuries. Those limitations evaporated in the next two centuries, probably because the money was just too good.